Fictional Crisis, Real Consequences

The clock is ticking. The 14-digit number on the famous “national debt clock” shows how the U.S. debt keeps getting bigger, and time is getting scarce.

If, by Aug. 2, there is no compromise in the U.S. Congress about raising the $14.3 trillion legal debt ceiling, then the United States is bankrupt: an absolute worst-case scenario that would lead the country into a deep crisis and could have disastrous consequences for the world economy. These real consequences would certainly be the result of a fictional and really unnecessary crisis.

The bitter fight in Congress seems just plain surreal. Republicans have made the inevitable raising of the debt ceiling a political problem. This is an unprecedented attitude for U.S. lawmakers. Since 1930, the ceiling was raised 89 times in total, 18 of which were under conservative former-President Ronald Reagan and seven of which were under George W. Bush.

At that time there was no national dispute that would have led the country to the edge of an abyss. Why is this unnecessary dispute happening now? The answer is obvious. Next year, the United States will have elections. The right wingers of the sketchy tea party movement are using the U.S. debt to make a stink. The naysayers want to win votes in the next election by stubbornly blocking a necessary debt-ceiling hike.

Irresponsible and Dangerous

Their political strategy is simple: a flat, cowardly refusal of all of President Obama’s suggestions and ideas. By doing this they once again reveal their true colors as irresponsible and unworthy representatives of the people. Only this time, their usual foolishness shows how dangerous the overly simplifying right wingers really are. Of course you can think about a future debt reduction, but it seems senseless and unrealistic to want to dismiss such decisions before the deadline of a possible national downfall.

Also, you should not forget that the American mountain of debt can be traced back to mismanagement by Republican presidencies. Republicans’ main agenda is low taxes because they want to relieve the rich from financing the country. For them tax hikes are like a red flag to a bull. They are vigorously resisting them to ensure debt reduction through the classic reallocation mechanism. Tea party supporters, however, are going one step further and demanding even more draconian cuts than the rest of the Republicans. Even John Boehner, the powerful speaker of the House, seems clueless about how to deal with the mavericks in his own party and is making a big effort to prevail against the tea party representatives. For his part, Obama is disappointing some of the Democrats who wish he would make an example [of the situation] and raise the debt ceiling by his own authority.

Neither of the political parties can expect to emerge as the winner of this dispute. As the leftist blogger Arianna Huffington has correctly commented, there is already a clear loser: the Americans themselves.

The United States is still suffering greatly from the consequences of the financial crisis. American politicians should give priority to the battle against joblessness and support severely necessary job creation instead of occupying themselves with a man-made crisis that could have devastating consequences.

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